Canal Regulations

This summary is provided only as a convenience. Please use our governments directory to find current information about regulations and laws affecting boating.

Here are a few of the Canal Regulations that boats must carry on board when travelling the Heritage Canals, such as the Rideau Waterway and Trent-Severn Waterway. The Safe Boating Guide (PDF) can be downloaded from Government Directory: Transport Canada, as paper copies are no longer produced.

That pretty well takes care of just about everything that you might see on a busy weekend on the canal. I always thought it was dangerous to swim in the Rideau near Manotick with so many boats pulling skiers, kids on tubes and jet-skis -- all going very fast. The river is narrow and you can swim in the "weeds" by shore or endanger your life farther out. Now I find out that "bathing" in the "channel" is illegal anyway! I wonder where the channel boundaries are when there are no spar buoys?

The Ontario Provincial Police cruise the canal looking for people breaking various liquor laws, speed laws, no-wake zones, as well as mandatory equipment laws and the canal regulations. (They suggest that if you see a boater breaking any of these regulations, you should note their registration numbers and report time and location to the police.)

For some fines, you don't have to go to court, but the fines are not trivial. You can be fined up to $400 for any of these offenses. You have better hope the officer is in a nice mood that day!

Ontario law says that boats must not exceed 10 kilometres an hour (6.2 mph, 5.4 kts) within 30 meters (100') of shore (size of a basketball court). This is to protect swimmers, shoreline, and wildlife.

Here are the buoys you will see in inland waters. In commercial waters, much larger navigational aids are used. Get a copy of Aids to Navigation from your chart dealer or online. Canada also uses yellow and black cardinal buoys marking the direction of underwater dangers.

If you plan to use the St. Lawrence Seaway locks, find information in our Government Directory: Canada/U.S. or Parks Canada. You may also find St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain by Kayak of interest.

Canadian Buoyage System:

Daymarks (often on bridge spans and harbour entrances):